Flutter – Short film review – 4 stars
Eerie and offsetting – a truly gripping monologue and acting debut from Edward Lee.
Directed by Nadine O’Mahony
Written by Edward Lee
Disturbing. Rarely a word used as a compliment. Yet, I cannot find a better word to describe Nadine O’Mahony’s and Edward Lee’s rather brilliant short film.
It was back in 2015 when I first met Ed, we both studied film and screenwriting together at the University of Worcester and would spend the next three years sitting in the same lectures coming up with weird and wonderful tales. But there was something else to Ed’s stories that set him apart. On one occasion I got the chance to collaborate with him and I saw a glimpse of the darkest depths of his mind – it was captivating, if not unsettling.
His latest story, Flutter is no exception. Nadine O’Mahony directs this single location monologue, in which Edward Lee makes his on-screen debut. The film lulls you into a false sense of security but always keeps you at an arm’s length. The story of how a social outcast finds himself following in his grandfather’s footsteps and his passion for taxidermy was never going to be a heart-warming tale – but it is how this hobby took root after hearing his grandfather’s tales is where Ed has sown in his usual sinister seeds. You feel sorry for this character and what he’s been through, but there’s something else there, something deeper and unnerving.
If you were to ask me what would I expect from an Edward Lee script, I would say “don’t expect a happy ending… And expect it to be set in Wales”
The film sets it’s ‘disturbing’ theme from the start, from its subtle lighting to its off-centre framing. It’s immediately noticeable. When the Narrator begins his story, he is far over to one side of the screen, leaving a vast void of space with nothing to fill it. Yet, in the limited space left to him, Edward gives an outstanding performance of an ominous and distressed character, taking his opportunity to finally offload the burden of his grandfather’s stories.
There is always a challenge in monologues of falling into the trap of being blunt – telling rather than showing. Limit the location to one room, framed on one character and surely you have put yourself into an inescapable corner. Flutter finds a way to dance around the obvious. Precise hints and small nods allow you to start to piece together the true story of what’s being told, all under the veil of how to correctly store and frame a dead butterfly – you learn something new every day.
As debuts go, this is not a bad start. O’Mahony brings out the best in Ed and lets him indulge in his story in order to get to the roots of this broken and twisted character. While this may be a short, short film, it does not take anything away from this fantastically disturbing tale.
- Andrew Godfrey